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Observations placeholder

Bozzano, Professor Ernesto - Psychic phenomena at the moment of death – 25



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Ernesto Bozzano - Psychic phenomena at the moment of death [110 cases suggesting survival after death]

Second category - Cases in which the appearances of deceased are still perceived only by the patient, but relate to persons whose death he did not know.

30-th case. - I draw the following case from Volume III, p. 32, Proceedings of the S.P.R. It was communicated to the Society by an Irish colonel. Given that the main role of this event is played by the colonel's own wife, we understand that she wishes to remain anonymous.

About sixteen years ago, my wife said to me, "We will have guests all week long. Do you know someone who can sing with our girls? I remembered that my armourer - Mr. X. - had a girl whose voice was very beautiful, and who studied singing for a professional purpose. I told her this, and offered to write to Mr. X., to beg him to allow his daughter to come and spend a week with us. This was done: I wrote to the armourer, and Miss Julie X. was our guest during the appointed time. I do not know whether my wife has seen her since ... as for Miss Julie X., instead of devoting herself to the art of singing, she married Mr Henry Webley some time ago .  None of us has had a chance to see her again.

Six or seven years had passed since that event, and my wife, who had been ill for several months, was then at the extreme end and expired the day after that which I am about to speak.

I was sitting next to her; we were talking about certain interests that she was anxious to settle. She seemed perfectly calm and resigned, in full possession of her intellectual faculties. This is evidenced by the fact that her opinion was later found to be correct, when our lawyer's advice was mistakenly acknowledged, and he felt that the measure suggested by the patient was unnecessary.

Suddenly, she changed her speech and, addressing me, she asked me: "Do you notice those sweet singing voices?" I replied that I did not hear anything. She added: "I have already seen them many times today. I have no doubt that angels are coming to welcome me to heaven. But it is only strange that among these voices there is one that I am sure to know, but I cannot remember who she is." Suddenly she interrupted herself, and, pointing to something on my head, she said:

"Here, she is in the corner of the room; it's Julie X.; now she is coming forward; she's bowing to you; she raises her hands while praying. Look, she's leaving."

 I turned, but I saw nothing.

My wife added: "Now she has gone." I naturally figured out that her assertions were nothing more than the imaginations of a dying person.

Two days later, while reading an issue of The Times, I happened to read in the obituary the name of Julie X. - wife of Mr. Webley. I was so impressed that immediately after my wife's funeral I went to... where I looked for Mr. X., and asked him if Mrs. Julie Webley - his daughter - was really dead. He replied: "That is all very true; she died of puerperal fever. On the day of her death, she began to sing in the morning, she sang, and she sang until she died."

In a subsequent communication, the colonel added:

Mrs. Julie Webley died on February 2, 1884, at about 6 o'clock in the morning. My wife died on February 13, 1884, at about 4 o'clock in the evening. I read the announcement of the death of Mrs. Julie Webley on February 14-th. My wife was never subject to hallucinations of any kind.

In turn, Mr. Henry Webley, husband of Mrs. Julie X., wrote to M. Gurney:

Birmingham, Wenman-Street, 84, May 18, 1885.

"I am happy to answer your letter by providing you with information you have requested. My wife died on February 2, 1884, around 5:50 in the morning. During the last hours of her life she sang incessantly. She was still singing ten minutes before her death. Although her voice has always been very beautiful, she never seemed to me so deliciously sweet as in those supreme moments."

Signed: Henri Webley.

If we rule out the hypothesis of the subconscious transmission of the thought of the assistants, since none of them was aware of the death of Mrs. Julie Webley. If we reject the other hypothesis of direct telepathic transmission between the agent and the percipient, since the death of Mrs. Webley had taken place more than eleven days before that of the percipient, there remain two other modalities of telepathic manifestation to try to explain the facts.

According to one of these suppositions, the source of the telepathic impulse generating the hallucinatory phenomenon could be found in the subconscious thought of Mrs. Webley 's husband or father, or some other person who would have known about the death of this lady.

However, this hypothesis seems very improbable, although it cannot be absolutely rejected. At first the percipient knew neither the father nor the husband nor any other of Mrs. Webley's relatives. It lacked, therefore, one of the principal and constant elements of any telepathic phenomenon: that of the existence of sympathetic relations between the agent and the percipient. Secondly, we know that in almost all spontaneous telepathic phenomena, the agent transmits to the percipient the hallucinatory vision of his own person, and not that of another person, as it happened in the episode that we just reported.

Finally, this case contains another circumstance quite difficult to explain by the hypothesis of collateral telepathic transmission: that of the hallucinatory hearing of a choral song in which we distinguish a familiar voice to the percipient, perception too clear and too prolonged so that it can be seriously attributed to an effect of the subconscious thinking of a third person.

Although these three objections are not of decisive importance, they are nevertheless of some value because of the extreme rarity of the cases in which telepathy deviates from the usual modes of manifestation, which makes it very unlikely that the three unusual forms in question have been united in a single episode. The last episodic circumstance that we quoted suggests rather another telepathic modality that seems more applicable to the case in question, that which is called a delayed telepathy. According to this hypothesis, one should suppose that the episode of singing which had been affected in the feverish delirium of Mrs. Webley had been perceived telepathically, though subconsciously, by Mrs. W. as it occurred, and remained latent in his subconsciousness until the conditions of hyperaesthesia and preagonic hyperunasia determined its irruption into the realm of normal consciousness.


The source of the experience

Bozzano, Professor Ernesto

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps